National Geographic News
A partial lunar eclipse, seen from Loudwater, Bucks, United Kingdom.

A partial lunar eclipse is seen from Loudwater, England, in 2011.

Photograph by Robin Scagell, Galaxy Picture Library/Alamy

Andrew Fazekas

for National Geographic News

Updated April 25

The full moon will get a tiny bite taken out of today as it undergoes one of the shallowest and shortest partial eclipses of this century. (See lunar eclipse pictures.)

Though the celestial phenomenon will be visible only in the Eastern Hemisphere, armchair astronomers can watch a live feed of the eclipse thanks to SLOOH. The Internet-based space-tracking service is broadcasting the eclipse with its robotic telescopes on the Canary Islands (map) starting at 3 p.m. ET on April 25.

Watch the eclipse live:

Here's what else you need to know about the rare lunar event.

What is a lunar eclipse?

A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth, and moon align. During total lunar eclipses, the entire moon is engulfed in Earth's darkest shadow. But during partial eclipses, the moon never completely goes dark or turns red—only a portion of its disk appears to go dim. (Read about a total lunar eclipse in 2011.)

"In this case, the moon only just clips the edge of the deepest part of the shadow, called the umbra," said Mark Hammergren, an astronomer at Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.

"The entire northern half of the moon will be slightly darkened by the penumbra, a broader, less intense area of the Earth's shadow."

Who will see it?

While North America will be left out of the sky show, much of the Eastern Hemisphere can see Earth's shadow brush across the outer half of the moon's surface over the course of the four-hour event. (Take a moon myths and mysteries quiz.)

All the stages of the eclipse will be visible across the Indian Ocean, central Asia, western Australia, Africa, and Europe.

Because only a tiny fraction of the moon's disk will dip into the darkest shadow cone, the entire partial eclipse phase will be a challenge to observe, lasting less than a half hour for viewers, Hammergren said.

"This eclipse is distinguished, or undistinguished, by being the second shortest partial eclipse of the moon in the 21st century, lasting only about 27 minutes," he said.

When is best to watch?

The most readily visible part of the eclipse will begin at 3:54 p.m. ET, just as the moon is straight overhead for observers in the Indian Ocean.

The deepest and most interesting part of the eclipse—during which Earth's shadow will fall on less than 2 percent of the tiny sliver of the moon's disk—occurs at 4:07 p.m. ET and leaves the umbra at 4:21 p.m.

What if I miss this one?

Generally, between two and four lunar eclipses occur each year, but ones as slight as tomorrow's are rare. (Read about a 2012 lunar eclipse that occurred during a supermoon.)

The last time such a small partial lunar eclipse occurred was in 1958, and another one like it won't occur until 2034.

But don't fret: Later this year, two more partial lunar eclipses will be visible on May 25 and October 18.

Patrick Sweeney
Patrick Sweeney

I live in South Florida. I was working, and a friend called me out, to look at the moon. It was very low in the sky. Late afternoon. I told her it looked like it was going into eclipse. I'd seen a full eclipse, as a kid. It wasn't blood-red, as the first one that I saw, but, tinged. That was my clue. We googled it, and this post came up.  I was right. It WAS seen in North America!

Lulu Walnut
Lulu Walnut

thanks really enjoyed this ! although too many clouds here to see it for myself ! x

K. Kongnisai
K. Kongnisai

I live in Thailand an just howled for this eclipse tonight.

Yulee S.
Yulee S.

i got less than 20 mins for luna to do her wonder! a cloudless night i got too :)

Gabriela Moreno
Gabriela Moreno

I won´t be able to observe it. I live in Ecuador. hoping to observe it the next time ;)

Ryan Wong
Ryan Wong

It's disappointed that I cant observe it because of the damn cloud!

Patrick Sweeney
Patrick Sweeney

Great shot, by the way. Right out of a horror movie!


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